Finding a new apartment is tough, especially depending on where you live and what month you are renting in. Rent is so expensive, and the national average is currently at $1,200 for a standard one bedroom and one bathroom apartment. Multiply that by three if you live in New York or San Francisco. Renters often scoff at financial bloggers who write articles telling you to only spend 30% maximum of your monthly income on rent. In a perfect world, that is what most of us would do, if the rental market would allow us to.
Signing a lease is a serious commitment. Rarely does one sign a month-to-month lease. Though they do exist, most landlords require at least a 6 month to a 1 year lease. Due to this fact, you should be very careful while apartment hunting. Here are some mistakes that people usually make when searching for an apartment that end up ultimately costing them money.
The first one is wasting time scrolling through online listing scams by accident. You should know off the bat that if you find a 2 bed/2 bath 1,400 square-foot apartment with brand new appliances in the best neighborhood for only $800, that there is an issue. Especially if the listing only has a few sentences. When conducting your online apartment search, try to not veer away from the mainstream websites like HotPads.com, Rent.com, Zillow, and Trulia.
As mentioned above, these days, it’s hard to not spend more than 30% of your monthly income on rent; just be sure that you aren’t paying 60%. If you find an apartment that you adore that’s in the best part of town, but you won’t be able to eat anything other than ramen noodles for the entire year, opt for an apartment a little further away from that area. While it’s not ideal, you don’t want to end up completely broke after paying rent on the 1st of each month.
Ask questions; do not ever assume something regarding an apartment lease. Read every word. If you find a house with a huge yard you would assume that the owner would maintain it, but you never know. You can’t assume that they provide lawn care, only to move in and find out that its your responsibility to take care of the front, side, and backyards. If there’s a driveway, don’t assume its yours. You never know; the landlord might not like anybody to park in the driveway. The point is, you must never make assumptions.
Don’t fall in love with the first apartment you see. You should consider a few at the same time. Of course, don’t take too much time deciding as apartments tend to go quickly. But don’t snag the very first one you see, because there might be something better that pops up later on that afternoon. Remember, you’ll be there for probably an entire year. Take the time to check out the neighborhood; also be sure to drive by during night time before you sign the lease.
Document any and all damage before or on move-in day, and don’t forget to take pictures. Landlords are sneaky when it comes to security deposits. You don’t want the owner to blame the claw marks on the front door on your dog, when they were there before you moved in!